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Opening Statements

Opening Statement: Chairman K. Michael Conaway: Committee on Agriculture Hearing: Review of the Farm Credit System

Remarks as prepared for delivery:

Good morning, and welcome to today’s committee hearing to review the Farm Credit System.

Today’s hearing is titled a Review of the Farm Credit System but the objective is twofold.

First, we hope to educate ourselves and the public on the history and purpose of the Farm Credit System institutions that provide vital credit to rural America. Since its inception over 100 years ago, the Farm Credit System has never wavered in its mission of providing credit to our rural communities in both good times and in bad. 

Second, we will review the health of the system. As farm incomes continue to decline, credit availability remains vital to producers, new and old. In our view, a diversified, well capitalized system is a healthy Farm Credit System that can function and service clients independently. Our committee has an obligation to proactively review the system to ensure its soundness. And to help us do that, we have brought together a panel composed of two different parts. At one end, we are joined by representatives of the Farm Credit Administration, the independent agency tasked with regulating the Farm Credit Institutions to ensure they fulfill their mission and stay within the scope of that mission.

But a review of the system would not be complete without hearing from the very institutions that provide credit. To offer that perspective, I’m pleased to have witnesses who can provide us with the association perspective, including one who has a nationwide charter that provides credit to farmer-owned cooperatives and rural utilities across the country.

Today, modern agriculture is far more complex that it was 100 years ago. Our farmers compete in a volatile world market, have greater regulatory burdens and increased input costs. Still, they continue to advance through hard work and innovation.

Innovation, however, often requires increased capital. It is essential that credit availability keep pace with the demands of modern producers. To meet the modern challenges of today’s credit needs, Congress has taken steps over the years to ensure that the Farm Credit System is properly diversified and capitalized.

Today, I believe that the Farm Credit System is fundamentally safe and sound and in a position to endure the challenges that it will inevitably face. Along with commercial and community banks, and USDA loan programs, I am confident that the Farm Credit System will play a pivotal role in meeting the credit needs of rural America for years to come.  

I look forward to your testimony and the discussions to follow. With that, I yield to my ranking member, Mr. Peterson for any comments he may have.